The Language of Us

 

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The Language of Us

Before you, I walked at the edge of the group

A straggler in strangers

My life didn’t fit, held together with an unsafety pin

I was made not to measure

A bird not of a feather

And my hesitant shadow held back

Expecting never to be expectant, half a step behind

Like a skittish kitten, playing with fear

And then, amongst the bubble wrap multitude

Issuing and popping with importance

Was a face that emptied the page, cleared the stage

And invited me into your dressing room

Shutting out the mob that scratched and mewled against the door

And said sit down, I have a place for you

In my heart

Come and try it on

And I tried it on

Inviting you to lunch without waiting for an answer

Knowing that the glistening still water waves of the Marina

Would caress our conversation

And lap at our bruised emotions

As we refused everything on the menu except love

We had been things to other people

We had appeared as guests in others memories

We were both in a foreign country

But as the first twitch of feeling shivered between us

We found we had the language of us

That said yes whenever we touched.

Roy Stannard for Natasha

20.8.16

For a recorded version with music on Soundcloud please click here:

April Showers – Abandon Ship (Chrysalis ‎– chs 2787 12″ 1984)

April Showers – Abandon Ship (Chrysalis ‎– chs 2787 12″ 1984)

April Showers - Abandon Ship (best)

April Showers – Abandon Ship 12″ 1984

It was 1984. I was a secondary school teacher living in Brighton, unmarried and draining most of my spare cash into Rounder Records in the Lanes where, until he joined the Housemartins, my pal Norman Cook would put a stack of 12″ singles on the counter every Saturday morning ready for me to collect.

Anne Dudley

Anne Dudley

Anne Dudley had make something of a name for herself scoring the orchestral parts on ABC’s Lexicon of Love and was planning something exciting in pop-electronic-chamber crossover called the Art of Noise.

April Showers were a Glaswegian band  – a duo consisting of Jonathan Bernstein and Beatrice Colin (who was previously in Operation Twilight label band the French Impressionists and nowadays an author) and were subsequently signed to the major offshoot Big Star.

‘Abandon Ship’ emerged from all the stars colliding in 1984. Jonathan and Beatrice writing a romantic, panoramically lush pop song and asking Anne Dudley before she was famous to score and orchestrate it. Chrysalis records put it out on its Big Star offshoot as a 12″ with the vocal A side, instrumental B side and the third track ‘Everytime we say goodbye’ to complete this perfect pop confection.

Beatrice Colin

Beatrice Colin

Nowadays you will know Beatrice Colin as the author of four novels for adults including The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite (published as The Glimmer Palace in the US) and The Songwriter. She has been shortlisted for a British Book Award, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. She also writes short stories, screen and radio plays and for children.

One of her children’s novels, My Invisible Sister (with Sara Pinto) has been optioned by Disney in the US. Her novel for children, Pyrate’s Boy is written under the name E.B. Colin and is published by Floris Books.

She can be found plying her trade as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

April Showers

April Showers

April Showers started life as  3 piece in 1981 – with Jonathan Bernstein, Hubble, and Bobby Caldwell – who worked with a variety of instrumentalists and singers and submitted demo songs for the Operation Twilight Record Label on which they had an unreleased 7″ single entitled “While The City Sleeps”. Most of their demos didn’t get released. Beatrice joined after The French Impressionists let her go.

In the meantime, in a bemused fog of Indie vinyl acquisition in Brighton I bought the 12″ took it home and thought at the time that it was a bit fairycake for my taste. Later, however, as Anne Dudley star rose and she became an essential soundtracker to the Eighties I found myself playing the record more often.

Three years ago I sold my entire record collection and this record was amongst the treasures and gems doubtless making van loads of money for dealers. I included it in a Blog post a few years ago and this track has been more commented on and requested than other.

I thought it was time to devote a blog to this one record and to upload all three tracks together for the first time.

Why it has not been reissued I don’t know. Sometimes the greatest treasures are the ones that remain undiscovered

Track Line Up: Chrysalis ‎– chs 2787 12″ 1984

A1: Abandon Ship

B1: Abandon Ship (Instrumental)

B2: Everytime We Say Goodbye

http://www.mediafire.com/download/dkeoaa1xao27dd4/April_Showers_-_Abandon_Ship.rar

Joyeaux Anniversaire, comme ils disent

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Natasha on her Wedding day

 

Joyeaux Anniversaire, comme ils disent

There you were

just a year ago

in front of the march to St George’s Day

we met, melded and married

and defied the xenophobic mantras

Slaying the dragons of prejudice

because the words we use sound different.

But love translates easily

and we didn’t need words to say that we would

and we did and we would again.

So in front of the flags of inconvenience

and the bile balls of blind hatred

we joined hands and futures.

‘Comme ils disent’

‘As they say’, and they did about us

But we stepped to one side and let the dissenters pass

We let the March become April

and the thunder become light.

We searched for quiet, sacred places

in the shadows of Lewes

to leave precious droplets of our love

between the flagstones.

We put new addresses on our hearts

And gave our souls new phone numbers

We threw away the mistakes in our wardrobes

And we agreed that the last Saturday in April

Would be the last day of our old lives.

Then as we stood under the crystal rivulets of sunshine

in a church one day in April

I watched the tired old procession

turn into a victory parade

And threw myself into your path

like a flower.

For Natasha after a year of marriage / Roy Stannard 26th April 2015

For a live performance please click here:

Farewell, Old Long Since

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Farewell, Old Long Since

The final minutes of the year

kiss furtively in a back alley of good intentions

The clocks call it a day

before winding up the night, the fireworks

wrote my name in the sky, briefly

And if you weren’t in a party you were no-one.

But Auld Lang Syne marched in time with the times

and carried our new found best friends

into our best remembered memories

even if the memories were left crying outside

before their cue at midnight

when the legends of the dancefloor

  become legless and the wallflowers wilt,

the high resolutions become low

and the turntable revolutions spin more slowly.

The herd of words that were heard all year spill to the floor

The Châteauneuf-du-Pape language jars and refills

as shapes and sizes and faces and guises

threaten comebacks in the new year

that haunt rather than revive

Like televised fireworks

and 70% proof good intentions

that slur sloth-like across the mouths

of the carelessly happy

tripping over the light fandangos

showing off their moves in slow motion

as fast as they can remember them

like Pinkerton remembered his Butterfly

as the knife fell

and the night began, all over again.

So farewell to the old, we were uncomfortable

with its long since lines and wisdom

and the way it shuffle-danced

and kissed everyone tremulously

like a tipsy iron maiden aunt.

It was a year that started with can’t and ended up in the can

It was a year of just missing the bus

and falling in love

In the queue for the next one

It was a year that didn’t stop for anyone

but there will be another one along in a minute.

Roy Stannard 1.1.14

Listen to a live recording of Roy performing this on The Whole Nine Yards 2.1.14

https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-farewell-old-long

Somewhere, Nowhere, Everywhere

The Southdowns

Somewhere, nowhere, everywhere

Before the rise and fall of everything

When the tilting storm clouds creased their foreheads

And the world felt numb

I searched for meaning in words and phrases

like a dictionary compiler struck blind

I couldn’t see for the eyes in front of me

I couldn’t hear because there were too many sounds

I couldn’t speak because others had spoken already

I felt for each morning

Like a bomb disposal expert with paralysis

I missed you before I knew you

I was younger then yet senile in my emotions

I stumbled uphill and worried about the edge

Because I was always close to it

I sat in a crowd of my own insecurities

that met every week like a Darby and Jaundiced club

I swam out to sea

And worried about the riptide

In the sky the stars were countless

Like a puzzle with too many pieces

So I began to count them on the fingers of every hand

of everyone in the land

with the hope of diamonds

I searched for the gem shaped like you

I talked to you before you joined the conversation

I reached out for the outline of you

I traced your heart in the sand

And waited for the tide to bring you back

You were the shadow on the ground in front of me

When the sun smiled

You were the voice in the back of my mind

That said it will be alright

Even when it wasn’t.

You were in the curve of the Downland

Where valleys rise again in hope

You were living in the spores of the Sussex ash tree

As it spilt into the wind before it died

You were somewhere, nowhere, everywhere

Waiting for me to look in the right place

Inside, outside and beside me.

Roy Stannard 23.11.13

Listen to a live version performed on ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ Thursday 28th November 2013

Moment

Leigh

Who knows when that moment will occur?

Moment

 

There was a New York moment
An ice-splinter in a sheet of sunlight
When without the aid of smart devices
Using dumb mind trails and heartstrings
We managed to connect
Like two sparrowhawks circling the Downs
Two wayfaring strangers caught in eye contact
A brother and a sister separated at the orphanage
The tramrails of recognition in a train carriage
Two carvings divided by centuries on an ancient Ashdown Forest oak
Together but alone, two flights scribbled together, trails in the sky
Lattice-work moments that we didn’t recognise then
But now in our Hadleigh twitchers hide they start to form letters
on the Estuary horizon as we look across the marshes of Foulness
And in the distance the iron-toothed refineries and the Essex tides
wash dreams from the tarnished golden mile to Thorpe Bay.
Do you remember being scared by thunder in the same storm?
Before grammar schools dressed us in new ambitions
That hung off us like extravagant hand-me-downs
And we didn’t know each other then
And yet we did, somehow.
We heard the strains of the same songs
drifting through our different worlds
echoes in adjacent rooms then
but hearing them again now,
as our eyes dance in the same places.
And as the shadows lengthen
The midges rise and the fairy-tale forest draws in
We let the thought hang in the air
There is a new Wealden moment
An iceblink as the glacier shifts
And the sun traces our faces,
our shadows merge, becoming one
as all of the things we always meant to do
collide here like carriages of a train
in its silent Beeching siding
but there in the car reserved for lovers
two people who have not known each other
all their lives
finally have their moment.
 
Roy Stannard 6th June 2013
(the 50th anniversary of the Beeching cuts)
 
Listen to a live recording on Soundcloud
https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-moment-final-mix

Alfriston

Alfriston - St Andrews in the Tye, raised mount and flint walls

Alfriston

 

Alfriston, oh Alfriston

I still hear your sea winds blowing

I was 21 the last time I smuggled myself into your secret passages

It was sunny then too, with the light dappling at windows

like an impressionist painter with an endless palette of time.

 

Alfriston, oh Alfriston

I can still hear your sea waves crashing

At the end of the Cuckmere where Eleanor Farjeon’s morning was broken

Sea trout, dace and perch open their gills

as the anglers brace their lines.

I lock my car and recall an Anglia owned by a brave young student

abandoned beneath the tree in the village square,

its straight 4 engine glowing with the exertion of the trek from Falmer.

Tucked under my confidence then was the contraband of hope

And today there’s an Inn called the Smugglers, a kind of memorial.

 

Alfriston, oh Alfriston

I still see her standing by the stream on the east of the village

Looking over the valley of lows and highs

We unfolded our plans on precious parchment, wondering

where this unmapped love would take us.

Today I look at the steeple on the Tye and can still see the tears

That watered my memory, my crying shame.

And the raised mount of St Andrews and its flint wall

express the dialectic of the place, the uplifts and falls

like a gull wheeling in the small eddies and minor currents

and a man down, below.

 

 Roy Stannard 6.10.11

 

On National Poetry Day – with apologies to Jim Webb and Glen Campbell